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BBC Food website to close

sausages with red onion

Yesterday the BBC announced that BBC Food, along with a few other websites, will be shuttered as part of a larger cost-saving plan. Before you get too upset, please note that the company's commercial site, BBC Good Food, will carry on.

The BBC Food site contains over 11,000 recipes, which will not be searchable after the site closes, although you will be able to find the recipe if you know the URL. That means any recipes currently indexed on EYB (currently 291 recipes) should remain linked. If you have any favorites from the site that you haven't yet Bookmarked, now is the time to do it. BBC Food contains recipes from well-known names like Nigella Lawson, James Martin, Nigel Slater, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and Hairy Bikers, including their Glamorgan sausages with red onion and chilli relish recipe shown above.

A BBC spokesperson explained the process: "We currently have two websites and we'll move to one. The recipes you love will still be available and we'll migrate as much of the content as possible to the BBC Good Food website. So you'll still be able to carry on baking and cooking with the BBC."

Rethink the bubbly for these sparkling cocktails

Cognac sparklers

Champagne has long been associated with New Year's Eve revelry, alone and in classic cocktails like the French 75 and Kir Royale. But there is a broader world of effervescent drinks that would be right at home when ringing in the new year, says Colin Powers of The Oregonian. In a story exploring offerings at various Oregon bars, he notes that cava, prosecco, and sparkling cider can also elevate your cocktails.

Sparkling drinks range from light and floral to bold and funky, says Powers. You can make individual cocktails or whip up a pitcher at a time for a party. Naturally, the EYB Library is bubbling over with great sparkling cocktails to add creativity to your New Year's Eve drinks. Try one of these great recipes (the main ingredients for each are listed to help you decide):

City of light from David Lebovitz (prosecco, vermouth, Lillet blanc, orange liqueur)
Rossinis from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof (strawberries, Grand Marnier, Prosecco)
Blood orange sangria
from Bon Appétit Magazine
     (Riesling, blood oranges, grapefruits, limes, Champagne, lemongrass)

Vanilla-fig Champagne sparkler
from Cooking Light Magazine
     (dried figs, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, vodka, brut Champagne)

from Good Food (Aus) (Prosecco, oranges, Campari, sweet vermouth)
Pomegranate rosemary spritzer
from BBC Good Food Magazine
     (pomegranate juice, rosemary, Prosecco)

The wintergreen (New Year's Champagne Cocktail)
from Serious Eats
     (lemons, crème de menthe, Champagne)
Sherry-cava citrus fizz
from Cooking Light Magazine (oranges, Spanish sherry, cava)
Cognac sparklers
from MarthaStewart.com by Martha Stewart Living Magazine
     (Cognac, sparkling apple cider) (pictured top)

Controversy swirls around Mast Brothers chocolate

Mast Brothers chocolate

The Mast Brothers chocolate company has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the craft chocolate world. Starting in their Brooklyn, NY apartment, brothers Rick and Michael Mast quickly developed a cult following, wrote a James Beard-nominated cookbook, opened factories in Brooklyn and London, and scored a partnership with Shake Shack. But currently the brothers are embroiled in controversy. It began when a blogger recently published a four-part series on DallasFood.org about the bearded brothers Mast, alleging that the pair, who have long claimed they were "bean to bar" chocolate makers since they opened their shop in 2007, are frauds.

The DallasFood.org exposé alleges that while the Mast Brothers claim they have made their chocolate from "bean-to-bar" from the start, at least in the early years they were actually re-melting industrial chocolate such as Valrhona. In response, the chocolatiers posted an open letter last week denying the accusations and stating, "Any insinuation that Mast Brothers was not, is not or will not be a bean to bar chocolate maker is incorrect and misinformed. We have been making chocolate from bean to bar since the beginning and will continue to do so."

While the brothers have dismissed the claims as a "mean-spirited 'takedown' by determined individuals with an agenda to harm" their reputation, they recently admitted to some of the acts in a New York Times article. The story notes that "...on the claim that the Masts were 'remelters' at the start, Mr. Mast confirmed the brothers did use industrial chocolate, what is known as couverture, in some of their early creations, before settling on the bean-to-bar process for which they are now known."

In a new letter on mastbrothers.com, Rick Mast defends his company's actions, basically stating that since they were making some of their chocolate bean-to-bar, they could call themselves bean-to-bar chocolate makers. The letter also states that they have "been open and transparent" about their experimentation. Despite these claims about being committed to transparency,  Slate points out the company seems to be moving toward less transparency in its operations rather than more: "In their new 12-bar product line, they've removed all information about cacao country of origin or source from their labels. They've also closed their main factory, on Brooklyn's Washington Avenue, to public and professional tours."

The DallasFood.org story goes even farther, noting that in their cookbook, the Masts declared a commitment to connecting customers to farmers. However, by removing the source information from the bars, "the Mast Brothers are free to use absolutely any cacao they can get their hands on, at any price, in any bar. Without knowing the origin, a customer has no way of assessing the probable quality of the cacao, the environmental sustainability of its production, the fairness of pricing for the farmers, or the absence of abusive labor practices."

It's not clear how much of an impact this controversy will have on the company, which has been a target of derision by chocolate experts and specialty chocolate stores, many of which refuse to carry the Mast Brothers brand. 

Rene Redzepi set to embark on a new chapter

NomaRené Redzepi has been described as the most influential chef in the world. His Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, has sat atop the world rankings for several years, and has spawned any number of imitators. Now the Danish chef is releasing a new documentary called Noma: My Perfect Storm, and has also announced big changes at Noma.

You can view the stunning trailer for the film exclusively on Apple Trailers. Regarding the changes to his restaurant, we'll have to wait until 2017. Redzepi announced that he will be closing Noma at the end of next year, and will be reopening it at a new location in Copenhagen, with an "urban farm" supplying the kitchen. 

Redzepi's playful approach to food and his belief in using local and sustainable ingredients--which he often forages to find--has won him many admirers. But although foraging for ingredients brings to mind a relaxing and bucolic experience, that isn't always the case. Says Redzepi, "We go there and it's like harvest time. It isn't as romantic as you think where you are with your little wooden basket, picking things while listening to music and soaking in the sun.

"Sometimes it's rainy, pouring down and you're in your rain suit, mud everywhere and it's cold and your fingers are trembling and you have to pick [tiny leaves] and you need a kilo of them." While foraging for many of Noma's ingredients has been a lot of work, relying solely on an urban farm in the middle of Copenhagen may be the chef's biggest challenge yet.

Saveur Blog Award winners announced

Funfetti cake

On Friday, Saveur magazine announced the winners of its sixth annual blog awards. I must admit that I hadn't heard of many of the blogs, but now I have even more sites on my "need to visit" list. The awards, which celebrate celebrate the best in food, drink, and design blogging, were broken down by category, with an editor's choice, a reader's choice, and four runners-up for each.

The Blog of the Year for 2015 was Molly Yeh's My Name Is Yeh. Recipes on Yeh's blog "draw inspiration from her Jewish and Chinese heritage, her '90s Chicago suburban upbringing, her years spent in New York, and her new Midwestern farm life." You may have seen photos of her homemade funfetti cake making the internet rounds.

Categories for this year's awards are: Best Baking and Desserts, Best Beer Coverage (, Best Spirits or Cocktail Coverage, Best Culinary Travel Blog, Most Delicious, Best-Designed, Home, Style & Design, Best New Voice, Best Photography, Best Special Interest, Best Use of Video, Best Wine Coverage, and Best Writing. The winner for Best Writing was Orangette, indexed on EYB. Visit indexed magazine Saveur for a complete list of winners.

Photo of How to make a funfetti cake from scratch from Food52 by Molly Yeh

The world's top 50 restaurants

Top cookbooks

Yesterday, San Pellegrino unveiled its ranking of the top 50 restaurants in the world. The big question was whether Noma would appear at the top of the list for a fifth year, but it fell to El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, which was named the best restaurant for 2015. Noma - the best restaurant for four out of the past five years - dropped to number three this year, with Italy's Osteria Francescana sitting just above it at number two. The restaurant in in the number five slot, New York's Eleven Madison Park, was the top-ranking North American restaurant on the list. The top-ranked Australian restaurant at number 32 was Attica, Ben Shewry's restaurant in Melbourne.  And Dinner by Heston Blumenthal took top honors for the UK at number seven.

Some big names fell out of the top 50 this year, most notably Daniel Boulud's flagship restaurant Daniel in NYC, which dropped all the way to 80. David Kinch's Manresa in Los Gatos, California, and Daniel Patterson's Coi in San Francisco also moved out of the top tier. Daniel Boulud will have to console himself over his drop in rank with winning the Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award.

The top 50 restaurants are spread across the globe and have widely varying cuisines, but many of them do have one thing in common: cookbooks that are indexed on EYB. And if there were an award for publishing house with the most cookbooks from top restaurants, it would go to Phaidon, which features books from four of the top 10 restaurants: D.O.M. by Alex Atala, Mugaritz by Andoni Luiz Aduriz, Noma by Rene Redzepi, and Osteria Francescana by Massimo Bottura (all of which are indexed). Other current and former top 50 cookbooks from the Phaidon stable indexed on EYB include Fäviken by Magnus Nilsson, Peru: the Cookbook by Gastón Acurio (watch for a special promotion for Peru later this month), and Coi by Daniel Patterson.

If you want to learn more about these top restaurants and their chefs through these cookbooks, we have wonderful news for you: Phaidon is offering EYB Members a whopping 40% off all chef and cookery books from now until June 30.  Visit the Phaidon website for more details (and to fill your shopping cart.)

It's quite possible that we may see a few new cookbooks emerge from first-time entrants to the top 50 list. San Pellegrino has also ranked restaurants 51-100, and the EYB Library contains many books from those restaurants. The list below provides links to cookbooks in the EYB Library associated with the top 50 restaurants. Most of the cookbooks are indexed and several offer a few teaser recipes online to pique your interest. The numbers in parenthesis are the 2014 rankings for the restaurant.

1 (2)       El Celler de Can Roca / Joan and Jordi Roca, Girona, Spain
2 (3)       Osteria Francescana / Massimo Bottura, Modena, Italy
3 (1)       Noma / Rene Redzepi Copenhagen, Denmark
4            Central Restaurante, Lima, Peru (no cookbook)
5 (4)       Eleven Madison Park / Daniel Humm, New York City, USA
6 (6)       Mugaritz / Andoni Luis Aduriz, San Sebastián, Spain
7 (5)       Dinner by Heston Blumenthal / Ashley Palmer Watts, London, UK
8            Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan (no cookbook)
9 (7)       D.O.M. / Alex Atala. São Paolo, Brazil
10          Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand (no cookbook)

12 (25)  L'Arpége / Alain Passard, Paris, France
14 (14)  Astrid y Gaston / Gastón Acurio, Lima, Peru
17  (8)   Arzak / Juan Mari Arzak, San Sebastián, Spain
18 (21)  Le Bernadin / Eric Ripert, New York City, USA
22 (13)  Nahm / David Thompson, Bangkok, Thailand
25 (19)  Fäviken / Magnus Nilsson, Järpen, Sweden
26  (9)   Alinea / Grant Achatz, Chicago, USA
31 (23)  Restaurant Frantzén  / Björn Frantzén, Stockholm, Sweden
32 (32)  Attica / Ben Shewry, Melbourne, Australia
36 (38)  L'Astrance / Pascal Barbot, Paris, France
40 (30)  Per Se / Thomas Keller, New York City, USA
45         Relae / Christian Puglisi, Copenhagen, Denmark
49         Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee / Paris, France
50 (41)  The French Laundry / Thomas Keller, Yountville, USA

A big name returns with a new cookbook

Anthony BourdainIt's been over a decade since Anthony Bourdain has written a cookbook. His last was 2004's Les Halles Cookbook. But that's about to change as HarperCollins imprint Ecco has signed Bourdain for a new cookbook titled Appetites, currently slated for a release in fall 2016. The book will be coauthored with Laurie Woolever. According to the publisher, the book will distill 40 years of "professional cooking and world traveling to a tight repertoire of personal favorites."

MamushkaOther cookbooks on the horizon include one from blogger professional chef and blogger Theresa Carle-Sanders. Her cookbook, Outlander Kitchen, which is not due out until summer 2016, is based on her blog of the same name. The book will feature historical and character-inspired recipes from Diana Gabaldon's bestselling Outlander series (the cookbook and series are both published by Bantam).

Arriving a bit sooner is Mamushka by Olia Hercules. Hercules formerly worked with Yotam Ottolenghi and was named the Rising Star of Food 2015 by the Observer in the U.K. Mamushka,  a celebration of the food and flavours of the "Wild East" - from the Black Sea to Baku and Armenia to Azerbaijan, arrives in October.

James Beard award winners announced

JBF 2015

Yesterday the James Beard Foundation announced the winners of its book, broadcast, and journalism awards. Sean Brock's Heritage continued its winning streak, taking honors in the American Cooking category. The hotly contested Baking and Dessert category, which featured three top authors, ended with Alice Medrich on top with Flavor Flours.

Our friends over at indexed blog The Kitchn took home the top prize in the General Cooking division with The Kitchn Cookbook. Again this year a relatively lesser-known book, Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition by David Sterling, was named Cookbook of the Year, and it also topped the International category. 

This year's inductee into the Cookbook Hall of Fame was Barbara Kafka, the author of IACP and James Beard award-winning books Roasting and Microwave Gourmet. Ms. Kafka is a former food editor of Vogue and a frequent contributor to The New York Times. In 2007, the James Beard Foundation also honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

View the complete list of 2015 JBF nominees and winners.

Renowned Chicago chef Homaro Cantu found dead

Innovative chef Homaro Cantu was found dead Tuesday afternoon on Chicago's Northwest Side, according to authorities. Police are investigating the death as apparent suicide by the 38-year-old chef and part owner of the Michelin-starred restaurant Moto. 

Cantu was know for his avant-garde cuisine that feature edible menus and carbonated fruit, but he had ambtions that extended beyond being a renowned chef. Motivated by his family's homelessness when he was a child, "Cantu presented food and science as a way to solve the world's problems, particularly hunger."

The Miracle BerryHis former restaurant iNG and recently opened coffee shop Berrista prominently featured the miracle berry, a fruit that makes sour foods taste sweet. Cantu felt the fruit could eliminate the need for sugar and in 2013 he wrote a cookbook touting the miracle berry's benefits.

Cantu worked in acclaimed chef Charlie Trotter's kitchen for four years before becoming Moto's chef in 2004. He later became an owner of Moto, which has been honored with one Michelin star since the 2012 guide. After Trotter died in 2013, Cantu served on the board of the foundation established in the famed chef's name.

In March Cantu was sued by a former investor in Moto and iNG, Alexander Espalin, who claimed Cantu improperly used Moto's business bank account for personal use, including trips, meals and personal business. Espalin also alleged that Cantu was using profits from Moto to prop up other failing businesses. 

Great Australian Bake Off in the works

Maggie Beer & Matt MoranFoxtel has announced it has commissioned a new exclusive series of The Great Australian Bake Off, with culinary icon Maggie Beer and acclaimed chef Matt Moran to judge the Australian adaptation of the hit UK format. The show will follow the format of the hit BBC series, with a dozen home bakers vying to be crowned Australia's Best Home Baker.

The Great British Bake Off has been going strong since 2010, when the show debuted on BBC. It has spawned several spin-offs in locations as diverse as Denmark, Turkey, and Ukraine. The series has also resulted in a slew of cookbooks, written both by contestants and show hosts. You can find dozens of recipes from the books online through the EYB Library.

This version of the show will be judged by some of Australia's most well-known culinary stars including the self-taught Maggie Beer, who said she was excited about "working with the team at Foxtel for the very first time on this new series of THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN BAKE OFF and of course the chance to work with Matt. Such a great chef and so giving of his knowledge, I'm really looking forward to seeing and tasting what we all come up with on the show."

With Beer and Moran on the team, it's probably fair to say at least one cookbook will emerge from the program. Production on the show will begin soon, and they're already looking for contestants. Amateur baking enthusiasts can register at www.australianbakeoff.com. 

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